At last night's 2019 NPL Victoria Senol Gold Medal Night, Michael Mandalis was inducted into the Hall of Fame. Here's his story.
Michael Mandalis was born in 1945, of Greek Ancestry, in Cairo, Egypt. Raised in Central Cairo, Michael started playing street football with a ball made from socks.
Michael arrived in Melbourne in 1958, settling in Prahran with his parents and 5 other siblings. He commenced Primary School at Prahran Technical School. He knew no English at the time but his new class mates Kevin Bartlett and Kevin Sheedy brought him up to speed and influenced Michael to play AFL in the process.
Whilst Michael played AFL at school, he joined and excelled at South Yarra Soccer Club as a 14 year old, winning junior Best & Fairest and Top Goalscorer Awards.
In 1960, Michael moved to Hakoah St Kilda from South Yarra and again excelled in the Under 16's at Middle Park attracting interest from South Melbourne Hellas committee member Charles Musker - who recommended him to legendary coach Manny Poulakakis.
In 1961, Michael moved to play for South Melbourne Hellas Reserve Team and was the top goalscorer in the team at only 16 years of age.
He later assisted South Melbourne Hellas to win 4 titles with the club in 1962, 1964, 1965 and 1966, including a treble.
Michael represented the state of Victoria a total of 16 times in all junior competitions and was the first ever South Melbourne Hellas junior to play in the senior team.
In 1964, Michael became the top State League goal scorer at just 18 years of age which attracted Australian national team interest.
A year later he played for Victoria against Torpedo Moscow, Bratislava and Chelsea, playing under Rale Rasic as Coach of Victoria.
He played for Melbourne Hungaria in 1968 before returning to South Melbourne Hellas in 1969 and was part of the 5th title winning team in 1972, who also won the pre-season Ampol Cup in that year.
In 1973, Michael played with Hakoah - helping them win the coveted Dockerty Cup trophy and Michael went on to become Hakoah’s player coach.
Michael moved to Naples, Florida in 1983c and set up a private coaching school there where he became acquainted with Australian former No1 Tennis player Evonne Goolagong-Cawley. There he coached several players who went on to play at the highest level in the UK including the Cawley's son – Morgan. Michael also hosted many Australian kids at his school with several scholarships.
In 1996, Michael returned to Australia and took up residence in Noosa where he coached Women’s football at Noosa Lions and taking them to the finals in 2003.
Michael is now involved in an unofficial capacity as mentor and club assistant at South Melbourne Hellas where he continues to assist multiple players with private coaching and career advice.